How Legal Weed Can Help the Homeless

How Legal Weed Can Help the Homeless

Homelessness is on the rise in the United States. Can marijuana tax revenue help reverse the trend?

Last year, the nation’s homeless population increased for the first time since 2010. One city, Aurora, Colorado, is helping its homeless via the use of marijuana tax revenue.

Colorado uses marijuana tax revenue to fund schools, infrastructure projects, and drug education programs. Aurora has added homelessness to that list.

The original $3 million program was launched in 2016, with the initial $1.5 million given that year to not-for-profit homeless organizations throughout the city. The rest was allocated to the 2017 and 2018 budgets.

And the initiative doesn’t stop in Aurora.

In 2017, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a budget bill to provide assistance across the state. The bill provides $15.3 million from the state’s Marijuana Tax Cash Fund “to provide permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing assistance for individuals with behavioral health needs, and for individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.”

“By providing stable housing, which includes rental assistance and supportive services,” the bill continues, “we expect to reduce incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness for many of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens.”

According to progrss.com, Denver will most likely subsidize “the building or preservation of income-restricted apartments and other housing units in the next five years, from 3,000 units to 6,400.”

The hope is that this funding will help more people afford an apartment or house — and stay off the streets.

Colorado’s transparency and dedication to making a difference is admirable. While it’s too early to measure the exact impact of these initiatives, early indications are positive. Not only will they provide help to those who need it, but they could also positively influence public opinion — and public policy — regarding legalization nationwide.